The e-commerce minister, Douglas Alexander, has pledged £24m to a new IT programme, which will fund the development of storage and display technologies.
Half of the funding will be provided by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, with the remainder of funding coming from the computer industry. The LINK programme will fund pre-competitive research between industry and academia into flat-panel displays and high capacity data storage.
"This money will be a real shot in the arm for the UK computer sector," said Alexander. "We need to maintain our position in this highly competitive market and turn ideas into jobs and investment."
According to the DTI, the information storage and display market is already worth £50bn globally, and is likely to be worth more than £100bn by the end of the decade.
The widespread use of information systems depends on the availability of technologies to store and display digital information in a digital form. The government has highlighted this sector of the IT market as a priority, based on its importance to the next generation Internet, as well as multimedia systems and digital televisions.
"Manufacturing is a central part of the knowledge-driven economy and projects like this will show that there is a great potential for high-tech manufacturing in this country," said Alexander.
There were 112,985 people employed in the manufacture of computers and other information processing equipment throughout the UK in 2001. This figure has been "stable over the last four years," according to Alexander.
The DTI recently launched a £2.8m scheme to improve the skills of printed circuit board designers. The project will establish six UK centres aimed at producing between 250 and 250 additional designers over the next four years.
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